Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: A Comparison

Sweet potato and butternut squash are becoming more popular and you may want to decide on one of them. Therefore, which is better, sweet potatoes or butternut squash?

Butternut squash is better than sweet potatoes because it contains more vitamins and minerals per one cup serving. Butternut squash provides more vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Butternut squash contains less sugar and almost half the calories making it better for weight loss.

This article will examine everything between the two including nutritional value, benefits, taste, texture and more. In addition, can you substitute one for the other?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Keto Tip: Good news! You don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza and sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto Diet. Find out here, Keto Breads.

Sweet Potato vs Butternut Squash: Nutritional Values

Butternut squash on the left and sweet potatoes on the right.
Butternut squash on the left and sweet potatoes on the right

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. I consume both of them myself. Let’s examine them closely starting with nutrients.

The nutritional value speaks more about the vegetable than anything else. Knowing what you can expect to get out of your vegetables can help you better plan your meals.

Therefore, let’s take a look at a quick rundown of the nutritional values between these two, and then we will discuss them in more detail ((NutritionData: Sweet potato, raw)).

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Nutritional Values

Nutrient Butternut Squash (1 Cup, raw) Sweet Potato (1 Cup, raw)
Calories 63 114
Fat 0.1g 0.1g
Protein 1.4g 2.1g
Carbohydrates 16.4g 26.8g
Fiber 2.8g 4.0g
Sugar 3.1g 5.6g
Vitamin A 14,883 IU 18,866 IU
Vitamin C 29.4mg 3.2mg
Vitamin B6 0.2mg 0.3mg
Magnesium 47.6mg 33.2mg
Potassium 493mg 448mg
Copper 0.1mg 0.2mg
Manganese 0.3mg 0.3mg
Iron 1.0mg 0.8mg
Vitamin E 2.0mg 0.3mg
Calcium 67.2mg 39.9mg

Butternut squash contains more vitamin C than sweet potatoes1. In addition, it provides more vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.

Another nutritional benefit of butternut squash is how much lower in calories and sugar it is compared to sweet potatoes2.

On the other hand, sweet potatoes contain many of the same vitamins and minerals. They also provide more protein, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin B6 and copper than butternut squash.

Since butternut squash contains fewer carbohydrates, this may be important for those who want to consume a low-carb diet. 

On the other hand, healthy carbohydrates like the ones from sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal are good for you3.

I recently wrote about the comparisons between sweet potato and pumpkin. Check out the article and find out which one provided the most nutrients, Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato: A Complete Comparison.

sweet potatoes on a pan
Roasted sweet potatoes

Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Which is Healthier?

Both of these vegetables contain a load of nutrients beneficial for your health. It’s almost a toss up which one to pick but let’s answer the question.

Butternut squash is healthier than sweet potatoes because they contain less calories, sugar and have a lower glycemic index and load than sweet potatoes. Butternut squash also provides more magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin E and vitamin C per one cup serving than sweet potatoes.

Both have similar health benefits, you can choose either food and be fine in your choice. However, butternut squash has the edge with more total vitamins and minerals. Both contain the antioxidant beta-carotene giving them their bright color4.

Blood Pressure

Both foods contain nutrients beneficial for blood pressure like calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. Magnesium helps the blood vessels relax while potassium rids the body of excess fluid.

Vitamin C helps reduce blood vessel damage and increases the availability of nitric oxide. Researchers at John Hopkins University states consuming 500mg of vitamin C daily can help reduce blood pressure5.

Butternut squash is more beneficial for BP because it contains more of these vitamins and minerals than sweet potatoes.

Immune System

Vitamin C and E help strengthen the immune system. This is where butternut squash separates itself from sweet potatoes because it contains almost 10 times the number of vitamin C and over double vitamin E.

Vitamin C cannot be synthesized by the body, therefore it can only be obtained through dietary intake of vegetables and fruit. This makes the vitamin C provided by butternut squash valuable for fighting off illnesses6.

Sweet potatoes and butternut squash.
Sweet potatoes and butternut squash Pin to Pinterest

Eye Health

The beta-carotene and vitamin A in both sweet potato and butternut squash are beneficial for the eyes. The beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A which helps prevent dry eyes and fight night blindness7.

In addition to the above, sweet potatoes and butternut squash can benefit the following:

  • Weight loss.
  • Lower risk of cancer.
  • Digestive system.

Find out how purple sweet potatoes and purple yams compared to each other in my article, Purple Sweet Potato vs Purple Yam: What’s The Difference?

Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

If you are actively trying to lose weight by dieting, you may ask, is butternut squash good for weight loss?

Butternut squash is good for weight loss because it only contains 63 calories per one cup. Butternut squash has a low glycemic load so it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels after consuming it.

Sweet potato also has a low glycemic load, therefore, which is better for weight loss, sweet potato or butternut squash?

Butternut squash has fewer calories than sweet potato making it better for weight loss. One raw cup contains 63 calories compared to 114 for sweet potato. Butternut squash also contains fewer carbohydrates and sugar.

On the other hand sweet potatoes consumed in moderation are not going to make someone gain weight. Both foods are low in total fat ((National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sweet potato (Ipomoea balatas [L.] Lam)–a valuable medicinal food: a review)).

Find out how taro compared to potatoes in my article, Taro vs. Potato – A Complete Comparison.

mashed butternut squash
Mashed butternut squash

Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Taste and Texture

For a lighter approach to this article, it is a good idea to compare the taste and texture between these two powerhouse vegetables. Before we get into it, both vegetables are versatile.

You can take many approaches to cooking them, altering the flavor and texture according to your preferences. Please see the next section about substituting one for the other.

  • As the name suggests, sweet potatoes are sweet. When cooked without any spices or extra flavors, they have a rich and sweet starchy flavor. Sweet potatoes are soft and stringy, especially when boiled or baked.
  • Butternut squash is also a sweet vegetable. However, instead of a starchy flavor, there will be hints of nut. The texture is soft and dense. However, when cooked correctly, instead of the vegetable feeling dense, it should feel creamy.

My Home Taste Test

To compare the taste of both I set up a blind taste test at home. Both foods were cooked and seasoned the same way.

The taste test consisted of four people. Three people, 75%, chose the taste of butternut squash over sweet potatoes.

Find out how Russet compared to Yukon Gold Potatoes in my latest article, Yukon Gold Potato vs Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Can You Substitute Butternut Squash with Sweet Potato?

There are few different approaches we can take to answer this question. In general, though, you can substitute butternut squash with sweet potato and vice versa. However, in some cases, the difference almost goes unnoticed.

In other situations, replacing one with the other might not be the best idea. Let’s take a look.

If you boil sweet potato and then mash it up, you can use it in almost any dish you would typically use butternut squash.

However, you won’t get the same nutty flavor which could significantly change the dish’s taste. Obviously, you can work around this by adding spices.

Sweet potatoes are not very good for desserts, whereas butternut squash, similar to pumpkin, can be used for dessert.

When making a roast, no adjustments need to be made. You can substitute one for the other. Both will give your dish a vegetable filled with nutrients and great flavors.

A popular debate about sweet potatoes is if it’s better than regular. Find out the answer in my article, Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than Regular Potatoes?

Sweet Potato vs Butternut Squash: Storage

Both butternut squash and sweet potatoes have similar storage methods8. Although butternut squash need more room, they can both be stored in the same places9.

How to Store Butternut Squash

  1. Butternut squash should be stored in a single layer and not piled on top of each other.
  2. They shouldn’t be touching each other.
  3. Keep them in a cool, dark place away from heat or sunlight.
  4. Discard any butternut squash showing signs of decay or rot.
  5. Do not store with ethylene producing fruit or vegetables.

How to Store Sweet Potatoes

  1. Don’t store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator.
  2. Store them in a cool, ventilated container.
  3. Storing in basements or other places away from heat is ideal.
  4. Do not store with ethylene producing fruit or vegetables.

Both foods are sensitive to ethylene producing fruit or vegetables10. Ethylene is a gas released by some fruit or vegetables causing produce to ripen faster. The following is ethylene producing:

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

Find out how Russet potatoes compared to red potatoes in my article, Red Potatoes vs Russet Potatoes: The Differences.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Food vs Food Articles!

Purple Sweet Potato vs Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?

White Sweet Potato vs. Sweet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Sweet Potato vs. Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?

Idaho vs Russet Potatoes – Are They The Same? Let’s Compare

Red Potatoes vs Yukon Gold Potatoes: What’s The Difference?

Sweet Potato vs Yam Nutrition and Benefit Differences

Turnip vs. Potato: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare

  1. NutritionData: Squash []
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Evaluation of bioactivity of butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata D.) seeds and skin []
  3. Cleveland Clinic: Carbohydrates []
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells []
  5. John Hopkins Medicine: Big Doses of Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure []
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) []
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutrients for the aging eye []
  8. North Carolina Sweet Potatoes: How To Store Sweetpotatoes []
  9. Iowa State University: What is the proper way to harvest and store winter squash? []
  10. UCSD: Ethylene in Fruits and Vegetables []

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